School Improvement in Maryland

How do I support my child in being successful on the High School Assessments?

Over thirty years of research show that early and active involvement by a parent throughout their child’s education—helping with homework, talking about school, attending school activities—is the most powerful influence and has benefits that reach far beyond a student’s preK-12 years. Parent interest in supporting their child’s success on state assessments gives students a huge advantage.

State tests assess the Maryland Content Standards that describe what students are expected to know and be able to do and teachers are expected to teach these standards at the appropriate grade level or course. Assessment items on the state assessments should be an extension of classroom instruction and assessments. Consequently, the best way to support your child in being successful on state assessments is to support their active engagement in core classes and monitor their progress in those classes. This would include asking your child what he/she was learning; showing an interest in class work, homework, and test results; and talking to the teacher whenever you need more information about your child’s mastery of the content standards. Though report card grades will be useful information in assessing how well your child performed in that class, you would not want to wait until a nine week quarter had been completed to find out if your child was struggling and needed help in any area.

What should my child be learning?

Core Learning Goals assessed on the three high school assessments

Algebra/Data Analysis - Biology

Since MSDE releases one HSA form each year, we can also see what goals, expectations and indicators have been assessed on prior Public Release forms. The following links provide additional information about which indicators were assessed on these forms each year. Please note that there were many more forms that were given each year and not released that have different configurations of what is assessed.

Goals, Expectations and Indicators assessed on prior Public Release items

Algebra/Data Analysis



How do I know what my child should be learning?

The High School Assessments test student's knowledge of Maryland Core Learning Goals contained in three courses: Biology, Algebra, and English 3. The tests are given after the student completes a course containing the Core Learning Goals. The Core Learning Goals were developed by hundreds of teachers and education experts and have been part of Maryland's public school curricula since 1996.

The major content areas included in the Core Learning Goals is included on this chart. The Core Learning Goals are a major part, though not the complete part) of the state curriculum which identifies the expectations for all of what a student is expected to know and be able to do in the three high school courses below. HSA only assesses the Core Learning Goals.

Algebra/Data Analysis Biology English
  • Analyzing Patterns and Functions
  • Modeling Real-World Situations
  • Collecting, Organizing, and Analyzing Data
  • Using Data to Make Predictions
  • Skills and Processes of Biology
  • Structure and Function of Biological Molecules
  • Structure and Function of Cells and Organisms
  • Inheritance of Traits
  • Mechanism of Evolutionary Change
  • Interdependence of Organisms in the Biosphere
  • Reading and Literature: Comprehension and Interpretation
  • Reading and Literature: Making Connections and Evaluation
  • Writing: Composing
  • Writing: Language Usage

Detailed information about what students need to know and be able to do is contained in the links below which will take you to the Core Learning Goals. Each Core Learning Goal includes a broad statement about what a student should know and be able to do and is further described by an Expectation that gives a more concrete idea of what the student will be able to do and an Indicator that is even more specific. Test items on HSA assess an Indicator. Some indicators have assessment limits which indicate more specifically what will be assessed